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Muni: MTB Pro challenge

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  • Muni: MTB Pro challenge

    A uni-que perspective of the MTB Pro challenge
    two day mountain bike orienteering event.

    (as found in aug-sept CATCH mag) 15th-16th June 1995, Dalby Forest, North York
    Moors, England.

    There was I looking forward to a couple of days of gentle pootling around Dalby
    forest on me Muni (Mountain Unicycle), soaking up the sun, waving at the punters
    while gently cruising around leafy forest trails. I was certain I'd be
    blissfully oblivious to any serious form of competitiveness which was going on
    around. Why? cos' I knew from past experience that all jugglers/unicyclists were
    pathetic wimps who didn't dare ride outside their sports/church hall in case
    they got lost, or had to stop for a fag every five minutes. A phone call two
    days later changed everything. Out of the blue a challenge was issued, there was
    going to be another Muni competitor! and not only that but his uni was state of
    the art and more generously endowed in the rotational sense (i.e. 26" as opposed
    to my 20") At this point I began to get the sneaking feeling that this weekend
    was not going to go to plan and could even be slightly more challenging than
    than I or my body was expecting. "Aghh what the hell, how bad could it get, go
    for it" said my sadly over-inflated ego. At that time I just didn't appreciate
    how much pain and effort was really going to be involved. Next time I'll just
    pay someone to break me legs or wave a white flag surrender and cry, or maybe I
    could even start to train, Hmmmm this is getting serious.

    I met Roger Davies 'the challenger' dressed in full technicolour MTB battle
    armour on Saturday morning thirty minutes before the start, It was then that I
    really started to have serious doubts about what I was letting myself into. I
    already knew Roger's Muni was made with carbon fibre/alloy and glued with
    araldite (see earlier CATCH for Mk 1 version) What I hadn't appreciated was the
    wonderful quality of the finish, the bloody thing looked just so dammed
    beautiful and professional to-boot, Damm, Damm, Damm. Then I discovered to my
    horror that
    a) The 26" wheel was also Sooper fast and smooth with XXX mm alloy cranks (sorry
    trade secret!) and
    b) The Lack of mass makes his uni much more responsive, akin to thoroughbred
    racehorses and equally twitchy. Then we started and my suffering began in
    earnest as Roger and the rest of the MTB faithful gradually disappeared into
    the dusty distance, while I sweated and tried to invent plausible injuries
    that would permit an early and gracious retiral. Sadly my imagination was
    defeated by my ego which said 'keep going you snivelling wimp' (and you think
    you got problems!) 25 mins later I had a quick conflab with Roger at the
    checkpoint handout area, me pretending to be cool while desperately searching
    for oxygen. We agreed similar routes for the six + hours remaining (stupid or
    what?) and then hit the road, or at least I did, Oww.

    In the following hours a cruel pattern developed, Firstly, Roger cruised off
    into the distance, while I trailed behind pedaling the Muni faster than it is
    physically safe to do. Honestly, this is not recommended for long rides if you
    plan to have a family at a later date. Seperate route choices would then cause
    us to split up, but to gain time I would cunningly run all the steep unridable
    sections to catch Roger at the checkpoint. He may well have looked suprised as I
    strolled in, but what he didn't appreciate was the bloody effort it cost me. I
    knew I couldn't keep it up. To add to this I was also becoming dehydrated with
    the extra effort and only one drinks bottle. But at the end of day one our
    scores were equal on 80points, but Roger was 45mins faster. That evening I had a
    really good nights kip. This was due to; masses of pasta, a unicycle workshop,
    five to six pints of beer wi'bitsin and the apalachian dance band till 1am and
    being totally wrecked. Next morning, was I ready for another day in the saddle?
    Was I bollocks! (or what was left of them). But we did it again anyway and I
    must admit that at some point I really started to realise how much I had enjoyed
    the event, or was I halucinating with the pain? (ask my wife she's convinced
    it's the pain) No, what was so good was to have someone else there who was as
    sadly adicted to Muni riding as me, Yup we were making our mark and the Muni has
    now become an accepted official Polaris class. At the end of day two I also had
    to bite the bullet. Roger had by tremendous effort reached an extra 20 point
    checkpoint so his substantially impressive 150 point total, clinched the first
    place. Is that man human? Doesn't he feel pain?

    Later, on reflection as the scars slowly healed I did some calculations and
    discovered that a 26" wheel travels about 25% further per rev, which means I
    travelled about an extra 9000 revs in the 40 or so miles we covered in the two
    days. No wonder I felt so knackered. Now, what if I use a 26" wheel? Hmmmmm, and
    what about having two bottle cages so I can carry more drinks? and what about an
    alloy rim and seatpin?..........Time to call Pashley. Time for a cunning plan.

    Are we bitter? Are we beyond help? Are we going to do the October Polaris? and
    Do jugglers do strange things with fish? Stay tuned for the answers. This is
    only the beginning buddy, now we're going to get serious.

    Duncan Castling. (can be contacted via Roger Davies (